Cllr Patrick Bergin represents Rowner and Holbrook on Gosport Borough Council.
My first opportunity to vote came shortly before my 20th Birthday. I was a soldier serving in Northern Ireland. The year was 1979. My choice was Conservative. My voting pattern remained unchanged until 1992 and the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. I had a growing suspicion of what the EU was becoming – its power and its intentions. I believed then as I do now that the EU was going to fail. Powerless as an individual I found myself without a natural vote, so and against my own usual stance, I did what far too many people even today do and declined to vote at all.
When the Euro Elections were looming in 2014, I found a cause I could get behind and I became more involved in the local UKIP group. It openly announced the things I too believed. That involvement led to my being asked to stand and rather more through luck and others decisions, I was elected by a staggering three votes and there I was a councillor.
The referendum has been had, the votes counted and it is the business of Government to manage the method of exit. That was always going to be the case so for me, my job in that regard was done.
Whilst I was in full EU campaigning mode and long before the EU vote, I started looking at the work that goes on within the chamber and getting a real appreciation of the activities of the various boards. I started to develop a great concern. What if the party I was part of managed to win enough seats to take over control of the Council? It was when that thought fully dawned on me, that I realised continuing to fight for a greater UKIP presence in Gosport would not lead to a benefit to the Town.
However, having been in the role for two years, I have found that the ability to help the people of my ward has given me great satisfaction but as a lone member of a party in the chamber, I am limited in my involvement in the planning stages. I simply get to vote on the matters that have already been formed.
Becoming an independent would change nothing. I did not even consider Labour or the Lib Dems. I suspect that on Wednesday they will attack me, the bottom line is that both groups would have welcomed an approach by me.
So here I am a member of the first party that I ever voted for, I now have the opportunity to get more deeply involved in the issues that matter both in my Ward, and the Borough.